The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Volume I Part 30

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Believe me, all doth now depend on thee.

The irritated temper of the king Alone condemns these men to bitter death.

The soldiers from the cruel sacrifice And b.l.o.o.d.y service long have been disused; Nay, many, whom their adverse fortunes cast In foreign regions, there themselves have felt How G.o.dlike to the exil’d wanderer The friendly countenance of man appears.

Do not deprive us of thy gentle aid!

With ease thou canst thy sacred task fulfil; For nowhere doth benignity, which comes In human form from heaven, so quickly gain An empire o’er the heart, as where a race, Gloomy and savage, full of life and power, Without external guidance, and oppress’d With vague forebodings, bear life’s heavy load.

IPHIGENIA

Shake not my spirit, which thou canst not bend According to thy will.

ARKAS

While there is time Nor labor nor persuasion shall be spar’d.

IPHIGENIA

Thy labor but occasions pain to me; Both are in vain; therefore, I pray, depart.

ARKAS

I summon pain to aid me, ’tis a friend Who counsels wisely.

IPHIGENIA

Though it shakes my soul, It doth not banish thence my strong repugnance.

ARKAS

Can then a gentle soul repugnance feel For benefits bestow’d by one so n.o.ble?

[Ill.u.s.tration: IPHIGENIA From the Painting by Max Nonnenbruch]

IPHIGENIA

Yes, when the donor, for those benefits, Instead of grat.i.tude, demands myself.

ARKAS

Who no affection feels doth never want Excuses. To the king I will relate What hath befallen. O that in thy soul Thou wouldst revolve his n.o.ble conduct to thee Since thy arrival to the present day!

SCENE III

IPHIGENIA (_alone_)

These words at an unseasonable hour Produce a strong revulsion in my breast; I am alarm’d!–For as the rushing tide In rapid currents eddies o’er the rocks Which lie among the sand upon the sh.o.r.e; E’en so a stream of joy o’erwhelm’d my soul.

I grasp’d what had appear’d impossible.

It was as though another gentle cloud Around me lay, to raise me from the earth, And rock my spirit in the same sweet sleep Which the kind G.o.ddess shed around my brow, What time her circling arm from danger s.n.a.t.c.hed me.

My brother forcibly engross’d my heart; I listen’d only to his friend’s advice; My soul rush’d eagerly to rescue them, And as the mariner with joy surveys The less’ning breakers of a desert isle, So Tauris lay behind me. But the voice Of faithful Arkas wakes me from my dream, Reminding me that those whom I forsake Are also men. Deceit doth now become Doubly detested. O my soul, be still!

Beginn’st thou now to tremble and to doubt?

Thy lonely shelter on the firm-set earth Must thou abandon? and, embark’d once more, At random drift upon tumultuous waves, A stranger to thyself and to the world?

SCENE IV

IPHIGENIA, PYLADES

PYLADES

Where is she? that my words with speed may tell The joyful tidings of our near escape!

IPHIGENIA

Oppress’d with gloomy care, I much require The certain comfort thou dost promise me.

PYLADES

Thy brother is restor’d! The rocky paths Of this unconsecrated sh.o.r.e we trod In friendly converse, while behind us lay, Unmark’d by us, the consecrated grove; And ever with increasing glory shone The fire of youth around his n.o.ble brow.

Courage and hope his glowing eye inspir’d; And his exultant heart resigned itself To the delight, the joy, of rescuing Thee, his deliverer, also me, his friend.

IPHIGENIA

The G.o.ds shower blessings on thee, Pylades!

And from those lips which breathe such welcome news Be the sad note of anguish never heard!

PYLADES

I bring yet more,–for Fortune, like a prince, Comes not alone, but well accompanied.

Our friends and comrades we have also found.

Within a bay they had conceal’d the ship, And mournful sat expectant. They beheld Thy brother, and a joyous shout uprais’d, Imploring him to haste the parting hour.

Each hand impatient long’d to grasp the oar, While from the sh.o.r.e a gently murmuring breeze, Perceiv’d by all, unfurl’d its wing auspicious.

Let us then hasten; guide me to the fane, That I may tread the sanctuary, and win With sacred awe the goal of our desires.

I can unaided on my shoulder bear The G.o.ddess’ image: how I long to feel The precious burden!

(_While speaking the last words, he approaches the Temple, without perceiving that he is not followed by_ IPHIGENIA: _at length he turns around_.)

Why thus lingering stand?

Why art thou silent? wherefore thus confus’d?

Doth some new obstacle oppose our bliss?

Inform me, hast thou to the king announc’d The prudent message we agreed upon?

IPHIGENIA

I have, dear Pylades; yet wilt thou chide.

Thy very aspect is a mute reproach.

The royal messenger arriv’d, and I, According to thy counsel, fram’d my speech.

He seem’d surpris’d, and urgently besought, That to the monarch I should first announce The rite unusual, and attend his will.

I now await the messenger’s return.